New bills seek more transparency from Illinois American Water; i

New bills seek more transparency from Illinois American Water; incidentally make buyout easier for city

Posted: Updated:
The bills seek to make information on the company's expenses, profits and rates more publicly accessible. The bills seek to make information on the company's expenses, profits and rates more publicly accessible.
PEORIA, Ill. (WEEK) -- -

State Senator Chuck Weaver and Representative Ryan Spain were back at home today, presenting a pair of bills aimed right at Illinois American water.

"What both these bills do is try to deal with how (water utility) ownership happens, and how there's more transparency to make sure it's handled properly," Senator Weaver said, addressing the assembled crowd. 

The bills, backed by groups including the CEO Council of the Peoria Chamber of Commerce and the League of Women Voters, want to make Illinois American more transparent. The lawmakers are saying the utility company does not make information on their revenues, expenses and water rate determinations publicly accessible. 

"I think transparency is important for something that we all use every day, which is our water," explained Representative Spain. "We want to understand how much it costs, we want to understand the business of delivering it to us."

Supporters of the bill say they shouldn't have to pay such high rates for water service out of their area, such as the Farmington expansion that Illinois American Water is going through.

And while one of the biggest talking points that both Senator Weaver and Representative Spain brought up was transparency, Illinois American Water says it already provides the information the two lawmakers are requesting.

Spokesperson Karen Cotton explains that the company publishes a yearly report, and that they are kept in check by the state's commerce commission.

"Everything in these bills is provided through our financial reporting on a statewide level," she said. "And that financial reporting is common among all utilities in the state - not just water utilities."

For the city to opt for the buyout, they are required by law to do a due-diligence report, which can cost upwards of a million dollars. 

Both lawmakers said that though the bills are not meant to influence the city's decision, they did say it would make that due-diligence check more affordable.

For the purposes of full disclosure, 25 News Vice President and General Manager Mark DeSantis is a member of the CEO Council that was present and in support of the legislation. 

Powered by Frankly